Summer Camp Expo

summer-camp-guide-and-adventure-expo-save_the_dateMore than 40 companies representing unique classes, outdoor adventure programs, sports leagues, and family-friendly destinations and attractions throughout Central Florida will showcase unique summer camp and adventure program opportunities for your family.

This free expo will feature exhibitors from more than 40 companies representing unique classes, outdoor adventure programs, sports leagues, special needs providers and family-friendly destinations and attractions throughout Central Florida. During the expo, attendees will:

  • Receive exclusive camp discounts and travel deals
  • Learn about unique destinations and experiences for all ages
  • Interact one-on-one with camp counselors and destination representatives
  • Enjoy live entertainment and kids’ activities
  • Have fun while creating summer plans for your family

“We are excited to offer families the opportunity to explore unique destinations and experiences for children age three to 18, all under one roof,” says Sarah Bain, Orlando Sentinel Media Group events manager. “Expo guests will also find exclusive discounts, giveaways and travel deals while they enjoy live entertainment and kid-friendly activities. It’s truly the fastest and easiest way to choose the best summer options for your family.”

seaworld-camp

SeaWorld Summer Camp 2016. That’s my smiling camper!

While looking over the list of camp options available, I saw some favorites (like SeaWorld that my son LOVED last year), and some that I didn’t know about. Who knew you could send your kid to the University of Doglando?! There he or she can learn about animal care and training, while handling adoptable dogs.

Doglando has friendly, furry friends.

Doglando has friendly, furry friends.

While we’re partial to experiences involving animals, there are sports activities, theater, science, music and so much more. Special Needs families will find camps that their kids will enjoy, too. There’s never been an easier way to compare summer camps in the Orlando area.

Come on out Saturday, March 4, 2017 from 10am – 4pm at Seminole Towne Center Mall, 200 Towne Center Cir, Sanford, FL. It’s located right off of I-4 Exit 101C.

Insider tip: Get there early! The first 50 families* will receive two tickets
to Medieval Times! Read full details on the Orlando Sentinel website.

Check out the full list of camps and read more at http://www.orlandosentinel.com/summercampexpo.

*After 10 am ET on 3/4/17 at the Orlando Sentinel Information Booth at the Summer Camp & Adventure Expo at Seminole Towne Center Mall. Full details here.

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Ride MAKO for Give Kids The World Village

mako for gktwThrill-ride fans itching to board SeaWorld Orlando’s spectacular new Mako roller coaster can skip the lines and be among the first to experience the most anticipated attraction in Central Florida this year, by participating in a special seat auction to benefit Give Kids The World Village.

SeaWorld Orlando and Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) are holding a seat auction that will allow winners to be among the first to ride the Mako coaster on June 8, before the Grand Opening celebration on June 10. It’s a chance to experience the “tallest, fastest and longest coaster in Orlando” and to be part of “hypercoaster” history!

Auction proceeds will help GKTW fulfill the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses whose wish is to visit Orlando’s world-famous theme parks and other attractions.

The seat auction will be available on this link from now until June 3. Riders may pick their preferred seat during the bidding process depending on their desired thrill level: a middle seat in the middle car, or a side-seat in the back.

w Brian Morrow

Brian and I did not take a test ride, but he will take YOU! Please give generously to Give Kids The World Village.

There’s even an exclusive, one-of- a-kind experience – offered at a minimum bid of $2,000 – that will award the winner two seats in the front row, riding with Brian Morrow, Vice President of Theme Park Experience for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Give Kids The World Village President and CEO Pamela Landwirth. In addition, the premium package winner will be awarded a two-night’s stay at a hotel near the theme park and lunch with Morrow, among other perks.

Mako you could be hereThere are 80 additional seats available for auction, offered at a minimum bid of $250 or $500 depending on the train and seat(s) chosen. Winners will receive their selected seat(s), a Mako T-shirt, free parking and admission to SeaWorld Orlando for the remainder of the day.

About Give Kids The World Village
Give Kids The World Village is a 79-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort, located near Central Florida’s most beloved attractions, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations.

Celebrating its 30 th anniversary in 2016, GKTW has welcomed more than 144,000 families from all 50 states and 70 countries. Working with more than 240 wish granting organizations, this one-of- a-kind resort is the destination for a child’s wish to visit Florida’s world famous theme parks.

The “storybook” Village has 144 whimsical accommodations and is made for children, featuring a castle, accessible playgrounds, pools and rides, as well as all theme park tickets, meals and entertainment free to all members of the family.

About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world.

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld rescue team
has helped more than 27,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of globally recognized brands including SeaWorld® , Shamu® and Busch Gardens®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 11 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of- a-kind zoological collection of over 800 species of animals. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

Viva La Musica at SeaWorld

red dancer w dominoesOn Saturday, May 7, musician, composer, singer and trombonist, Willie Colón will perform some of his all-time hits at SeaWorld, Orlando. Then on Saturday, May 14, Latin music legend Wisin will hit the stage and perform some of his record-breaking hits such as “Adrenalina” and “Que Viva la Vida.”

If you’ve not been to Viva La Musica, SeaWorld’s festival of Latin food, music and culture, you’ve been missing out! In addition to the hot Latin sounds, there’s the food. Chef Hector Colon and his staff have outdone themselves this year with new flavors including:blue dancers

o   Piononos – Sweet plantain stuffed with traditional seasoned ground beef

o   Morcilla – Traditional Latin American blood sausage

o   Sorullitos – Caribbean-style fried polenta sticks

chef Gonzales

Chef Colon serves up Tripletas at SeaWorld Orlando’s Viva la Musica

o   Frituras de camarones – Skewered shrimp fritters with fried plantains

o   Lechón asado – Traditional roasted pork rubbed with Caribbean spices

I especially loved the Piononos. The contrast of sweet plaintains with the beef was exciting and delicious. I wasn’t expecting the flavors to meld so well, but then again I don’t make many Latin dishes. (Methinks I need to try now!)

Favorites from years past include piraguas (shaved ice with tropical flavors), bacalaítos (fried salted codfish pancakes), pinchos (skewered grilled meat with fried plantains) and tripletas, a hearty sandwich made with roast pork, chicken, steak and cheese topped with potato sticks and a special sauce. Tripletas are new to me, too. And delish! I think SeaWorld should have a Latin restaurant in the park to serve up some of these creations

IMG_4244

Three meats for the Tripletas.

year-round. I hate having to eat it ALL in one month-long setting, LOL.

You’ll also find Chef’s signature creations around the park. New this year at Mango Joe’s is the Hamburguesa Cubana, a hamburger made with a chorizo, ground beef and pork patty. Plus, guests who visit Seafire Grill, Cypress Bakery and Mango Joe’s will find an array of Latin infused limited-time dishes.

The absolute best item (if you ask me) is the skirt steak with chimichuri sauce (called Churrasco on the menu). Chef Hector Colon let me in on his secret recipe (sort of). Where traditional chimichuri has parsley, the Latin version he’s created substitutes half of the parsley with cilantro. He adds a touch of jalapeno, oregano, red pepper, salt and lots of garlic to the olive oil and apple cider vinegar base. I’ll be creating a copy cat version of this in the near. Stay tuned!

chimichurriWhere can you get this deliciousness? Check your Viva La Musica event guide and look for “Churrasco,” found under section F – Cocia Criolla. This is the long kiosk in the middle of the pathway that serves the full meals. You won’t be disappointed!

Viva la Música activities begin at 12 p.m. each Saturday at the Bayside pathway, with concerts starting at 3 p.m. at Bayside Stadium.

chef Gonzales and Kelly selfie

Freezin’ For A Reason 2016

Polar Plunge Freezin' For A Reason at Aquatica by SeaWorld Orlando for Special Olympics FloridaSaturday February 13, the Special Olympics Florida’s Polar Plunge® will be held atSpecial Olympics Florida Aquatica. During this statewide fundraiser, individuals and teams, alongside Special Olympics athletes raise money for the privilege of Plunging into the chilled down wave pool.

Aquatica is usually warm and tropical (as we all know!), but once each year they chill down the wave pool so plungers can experience the “thrill of the chill” all while supporting a great cause.

I remember my first Polar Plunge. It was exciting to be part of such a huge joint adventure, with people from all over in crazy costumes, all “fired up” to get really “chilled down!” Each time it’s a heck of a lot of fun, but more importantly it’s an opportunity to make a difference. Every dollar raised helps the athletes of Special Olympics Florida by transforming their lives through the joy of sports.

Polar Plunge Freezin' For A Reason at Aquatica by SeaWorld Orlando for Special Olympics Florida

It’s loads of fun watching the firemen! The Florida Professional Firefighters are Presenting sponsors.

If you haven’t signed up for the Plunge, and would like to, click this link or if you’d like to leave the “freezing” to me, please support here. (Team members wanted! Join me here.)

There is no cost for plunging but Plungers are asked to fundraise a minimum of $100. Plungers create their own personal Plunge webpage so friends, family and co-workers can donate online. It’s quick, easy and secure.

Spectators are welcome to join in, cheer on, and join the party. Only the wave pool will be chilled down, the rest of the rides are heated. Come for the Plunge, then enjoy Aquatica all day!

If you don’t want to Plunge, but still participate, you can become a Virtual Plunger.  Raise pledges and receive incentives just like a regular Plunger, but without going into the chilly water.

Plungers who raise the minimum of $100 in donations, automatically get entry into Aquatica, the official Polar Plunge® T-shirt, two spectator passes and bragging rights over everyone who just couldn’t bear it!

Please join me in supporting Special Olympics Florida.

 

One Weekend Left for Wild Days At SeaWorld

Wild Days, presented by Coca-Cola rounds out this weekend, February 7 – 8, with animal expert Jungle Jack Hanna at SeaWorld, Orlando.

Wild Days jackhanna_780x438_01-07-2015Jack Hannah made his 95th appearance on Letterman last night with a groundhog, bush baby, a black leopard, cobra, caracal and a Harris’s hawk. While it’s always fun to watch him interact with the animals (and David Letterman!) on TV, how amazing is it to say you got to watch him in person?!

SeaWorld park guests get the opportunity to see Jack Hanna from the Columbus Zoo on the Wild Days stage in the Nautilus Stage. He’ll share stories from his travels around the world, and introduce guests to some of his favorite animal friends. Wild Days is included with park admission. Shows are at 11:00am and 3:00 pm.

For those wanting a more intimate up-close encounter, there are a few add on experiences available as well.

  • Breakfast with Jack Hanna (available Saturday and Sunday) at Dine with Shamu®. Package includes breakfast at Dine With Shamu, meet-and-greet with Jack Hanna, a complimentary family photo and special reserved seats during the 11 a.m. show.
  • Dinner with Jack Hanna (only available Saturday) at Dine with Shamu®. Package includes dinner at Dine With Shamu, meet-and-greet with Jack Hanna, a complimentary family photo and special reserved seats during the 3 p.m. show.

This is the third and final weekend of Wild Days. Animal Ambassador Julie Scardina kicked off the event with a Penguin Party, and last week Bindi Irwin, 16-year-old daughter of Terri Irwin and the late Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) thrilled “Generation Nature” with her passion for education and conservation.

Bindi at Wild Days

Insider tip: Buy your annual pass now! The incredible BOGO deal ends February 8, 2015. Special this weekend from Coca-Cola: Buy one souvenir drink cup ($11.99) and receive one for 50% off with free refills of Coca-Cola products on the day of purchase. 

All weekend, don’t miss the fun at SEA Garden Block Party featuring a high-energy DJ, whimsical Storyteller, animal encounters, and special character appearances. There are also chances to earn limited edition Wild Days trading cards around the park, plus opportunities for kids to play games that teach how they can help the environment.

You can also hear from SeaWorld trainers who will be on hand to introduce you to some of your favorite SeaWorld animal friends. Discover what goes into training, feeding and loving these animals every single day, plus ask questions of your own! See the in-park flyer for times and locations.

We love going to Wild Days. It’s a great opportunity to see world-renowned animal experts and hear how they’re making a difference every day. It’s great, too, to learn new ways we can be a part. If you’d like to be inspired to action (and have tons of fun doing it), visit SeaWorld during Wild Days, or any day.

Conservation begins with Inspiration. Be inspired. Go DO.

 

Photo Key at SeaWorld and Aquatica

PhotokeyThis weekend we’re doing a “two-for.” SeaWorld Spooktacular today, and Aquatica on Sunday. What with the gorgeous Orlando weather and all, indications point to a perfect weekend! One thing though: I’m usually taking pictures. Lots of ’em. I take them to chronicle wonderful memories with my friends and family. I take them to share on social media. I take them so relatives out of state can vicariously enjoy our visits. But… I take them. I’m not in a lot, because I’m behind the camera. Enter “The Photo Key.”

On my last visit I bought the new Photo Key, which replaces the Photo Pass of old (which I really enjoyed and doubted could be topped…) For a $99.99 you can buy an Annual PhotoKey pass for BOTH SeaWorld and Aquatica! (Single day passes are $59.99.) For a year from purchase, you get unlimited access to all of your digital photos (you can print them out anywhere from a drug store kiosk, at home, or use them on social media to your heart’s content).

Photos are taken by the staff photographers at key locations throughout the parks, including most roller coasters, Shark Encounter, Sky Tower, and more. I’m especially thrilled to have the Aquatica option, since it’s a bit tricky to take your own photo in the water, LOL. (And who wants to lug around a camera all day in your bathing suit?!)

Today I plan on stopping by many a photo photographer. My husband and I are dressed as Longshoremen, and our son is a police officer. Good times. And now, good times remembered digitally.

Here’s some more info from SeaWorld:

PhotoKey is available for purchase at several stations inside the park or you can purchase PhotoKey prior to arriving at the park at seaworldorlando.com. Take advantage of PhotoKey opportunities during your next family vacation and unlock a world of memories.

PhotoKey benefits:

  • Unlimited Access – All photos can be viewed, shared and downloaded at any park PhotoKey location, on the PhotoKey mobile app or on the PhotoKey website.
  • Save on Purchases – Receive discounts on in-park photo products that are available at any photo location.
  • Professional Photographers – Take advantage of professional photographers roaming the park to capture your family memories.
  • Keepsakes – Photos can be customized into various keepsakes through exclusive access to the PhotoKey website  Receive a free $10 online credit toward any customized PhotoKey product and unlimited $5 individual prints while PhotoKey pass is valid.

 

Spooktacular at SeaWorld… A Boo-tiful Thing

Last weekend we enjoyed the fall family fun that is SeaWorld Spooktacular! From trick-or-treating along the shore, to Halloween themed shows and entertainment, Spooktacular is a Boo-tiful thing to our family (and it’s included with park admission!). Spooktacular takes place weekends throughout the entire month of October, from 12 – 8 p.m.

Spooktacular Collage 2014The Sesame Street Countdown to Halloween show at the Seaport Theater, is a family fave. Human host Jamie interacts with the cutest monsters around for a not-scary-at-all musical good time. I especially love The Count (ahh ahh ahh!) and Transylvania 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5. It’s a play on the Big Band classic Pennsylvania 6-500. Kids of all ages will be singing along with Elmo, Telly Monster, Abby Cadabby and all their Sesame Street friends.

New this year is the Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch (added item, not included in admission). Enjoy a delicious menu of seasonal items while sitting at a reserved table that brings you up close to majestic killer whales and Halloween surprises — a family photo with a Halloween Spooktacular frame, a free cookie decorating kit and a trick-or-treat bag with goodies. Pass members, buy your tickets through the pass member portal for discount admission.

PumpkinGuts2014Every year we enjoy The Longshoremen doing their “Pumpkin Guts” routine. Set just outside the SeaFire Inn restaurant, the performance staring an amazing and talented comedic trio will have you busting a gut (pun intended) as they try to scoop out the pumpkin guts to carve them. Spoiler Alert: They don’t have much success at anything but making a MESS!

Down at Penelope’s Party Zone, kids can get creative at the Jo-Ann CraftZone or dance to the live DJ’s family-friendly tunes. Though my son HAS the Turtle Trek app at home, he enjoyed playing on the huge screen, while his little friend made a picture at the coloring desks. Walking down and up from the party zone, big AND little kids couldn’t help but stop and push the buttons that make water dance out in the bay. Every detail has been thought of, and guests will be amazed at how much they’re immersed into the sea-themed magic all around.

Make sure to have your child’s photo taken with the myriad under-water creatures who grace Spooktacular while you trick-or-treat or partake in the games and goodies available for purchase along the bay. Because there is such a wide variety of creatures, there are usually not very long lines. Insider tip: Parents can trick-or-treat, too! (We’re kind of partial to the Junior Mints and Lemonheads!)

Whether you’re there for the treats or entertainment, you’ll have a boo-tiful experience at SeaWorld Spooktacular. See you there this weekend! And the next. And EVERY weekend in October!

Ticket deal: For a limited time, parents can get 50% off an Annual Pass for kids 9 and under with the purchase of a full-paid Annual Pass.  For more details and to purchase, visit SeaWorldOrlando.com.

Spooktacular at SeaWorld Orlando is Coming Soon

I love Halloween. I love dressing up. I love getting the house all “decked out” for a night of family-friendly fun. I’m not much into getting scared. For me, SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is right up my alley, and is one of the most fun events of the year. It seems to get better and better all the time.

Starting October 4, SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular takes place from 12 to 8 p.m. October: 4-5, 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26.

spooktacular2013bNew this year is a Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch. In what’s being called “an immersive and memorable brunch experience,” families will enjoy a seasonal menu while being up close and personal with SeaWorld’s majestic killer whales. Plus, Halloween surprises are promised including a family photo with a Spooktacular frame, a free cookie decorating kit (something my 7-year-old loves!), and a trick-or-treat bag with goodies.

This year’s candy line-up in “Waves of Trick-or-Treat Fun” includes Tootsie Rolls, jelly beans, Airheads… just to name a few. The great fun is not only in getting to indulge in lots of yummy treats (aka “sometimes foods in our house, LOL), but stopping by all the themed characters and stop points. There is SO much to see.

Insider tip: Most guests enter the trick-or-treat line from the entrance closest to the
park entrance. To get in with less waiting, position yourself near the “other” end of
the trick-or-treat pathway, on the other side of the park… past the arcade, area
near the underwater viewing side of Shamu Stadium.

Make sure you check out Penelope’s Party Zone over in the Bayside area. There you’ll find craft stations, bubbles galore, fun music including a live DJ, and the most adorable sea-themed characters you can imagine!

Keep that dancing idea going into the night at an hour before closing. Princess Penelope and all her undersea friends can “get down” in the Village Square at the front of the park. It’s always a blast.

Admission to SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is included with SeaWorld admission, whether you have a day pass, fun card, or annual pass!

Add-ons include: Sweet Treat Decorating, and the Dine with Shamu Spooktacular Brunch.

See you there. (I’ll be the one in costume!)

O-Town MacDown is Cheesy Family FUN

macdown logo smO-Town MacDown, the “cheesiest” food festival in town, will be held Saturday, August 23 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Benefiting Give Kids The World Village, “Where Happiness Inspires Hope”, O-Town MacDown presented by SeaWorld will pit professional chefs, restaurant chefs, and home cooks in a competition to see who has the best mac-n-cheese in Central Florida.

Not only will guests enjoy all the macaroni and cheese they could possibly want, but there will be a kids zone, crafts (macaroni arts and crafts, of course), live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and a live cooking competition.

The Orlando Science Center got a jump start on all the cheesy fun when they invited science campers to make “extreme macaroni-and-cheese.” What’s the recipe? Take a group of fun-loving kids and add blocks of delicious cheese. Center a large vat of noodles in a field, then introduce the Science Center’s catapults! Kids took turns launching the cheese up into the air with the goal of landing *splat* into the noodles. Their high-flying fun helped spread the word about O-Town MacDown!

 

O-Town MacDown is a family-fun event that will also include cooking demonstrations, live entertainment including appearances by the SeaWorld “Groove Chefs.” Magician/Comedian Tony Brent from the WonderWorks Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show will be performing, as well as local acoustic guitarist Islay Rodriguez.

Fans of cooking demos will love watching Retro Rad Chef Emily Ellyn, Jillycakes owner and Cupcake Wars winner Chef Jillian Hopke, Chef Maira Isabel cookbook author and Executive Chef at Disney World Golf Courses, and fourth-generation world-class chef Jody McLeod.

Kids will have fun at three bounce houses, face-painting station, the Mad Scientist Show with Professor Al Chemy, plus character meet and greets and performances by Elevate LIVE!, The Bumbles and The Honey Bees Too®, The Literacy Alliance: Scrambled Fairy Tales, The Orlando Improv All-Stars, and The Magic and Mayhem Comedy Magic Show

Advance purchase tickets are just $10 for adults and $5 for children and are available at http://www.otownmacdown.org/.

It’s gonna be Gouda!

 

Those Summer Nights at SeaWorld Orlando

I can’t even think of the words “Summer Nights” without hearing certain “Grease-ers” in my mind, dragging out the second half of that phrase in iconic ’50s warble. I’m singing a NEW tune, now as SeaWorld’s Summer Nights has me Makin’ Waves and wanting to Light up the Night!

The atmosphere at Shamu Stadium is like a night club, but for families. Everyone is moving and grooving to the all-new music, played and pumped up by a live DJ. A pre-show decades dance off, gets you on your feet (and your kids entertained) as the stadium fills (and note: you will need to get there early, as shows fill fast).

Our group took advantage of the show-before- the-show and proceeded to dance unabandoned! Wild giggles and shouts for joy were heard from our row, and that was just the warm up! You’ll also get to read some ocean/animal facts while you wait for the show to start. The kids with me wanted me to read every one out loud.

SeaWorld’s outstanding trainers and the ever-magnificent Killer Whales are the Main Event, though. You’ll be hard-pressed not to join in on the oohs and aahs from the audience as the whales leap from the water, or SPLASH the crowd. (And when they say the splash zone goes up to the second level… they’re NOT kidding. Take your cameras and cell phones at your own risk.)

We usually leave before the night shows since my son wakes up at 6:30 every morning (EVERY morning) and it’s normally a wise decision to match that early rise time with an early “to bed” time. I can’t think of a better time to break that rule, though, than on a summer night with friends and family. We all enjoyed the show so much and will be back a few more times at least before summer’s end (which, sadly, seems RIGHT around the corner!).